Tech | Suspension Upgrade
As our plan came together for our '68 Mustang project, we knew from the get-go that we'd be powering our Pony with a modular engine of some sort. There's no denying that these engines, even in the base Two-Valve configuration, are wide. We mean like wider than an FE or Boss 429. Wider than the distance between the Mustang's front framerails! Wider than-oh, you get the idea-these suckers are wide! Fitting one of Ford's modular engines into a classic Mustang has been done before of course, as we've seen numerous Mustangs over the years with all manner of modular engine configurations installed under the hood. Every time we'd see one at a show, out came the camera and the notepad as we wrote down info from the owner's build and snapped installation photos for future reference. The one thing that was evident in every single installation was you're going to say "buh-bye" to the shock towers, either in part or in whole, depending upon the engine compartment's original size and the version of the modular engine you're dropping in. This means no more stock suspension, as the shock tower is where the upper control arm attaches and the coil spring and shock absorber reside as well. An aftermarket suspension package is a must for engine clearance and the first words that often come to mind are "Mustang II."
Now the terminology may be a bit fuzzy to some, but for the uninitiated we're not talking about the actual Mustang II suspension as it was originally found in the '74-'78 Mustang II. No, these aftermarket systems are more of a derivative, or perhaps a modern interpretation of the original system. With thicker, stronger steel, tubular arms, replaceable ball joints, adjustable suspension rates, and more, these systems are certainly related to the original Mustang II in name and basic geometry only. Of course there are the naysayers who ask "why replace a 40-year-old suspension with a 30-year-old suspension?", but we're not talking true apple-to-apple comparisons here. If you went to your favorite salvage yard, cut the subframe out of a Mustang II and grafted it to your classic Ford project, we might tend to agree. Fortunately, these modern systems are far from that, and some companies have changed the geometry and suspension pickup points enough that they don't even use the term Mustang II in their marketing copy (even if the people who purchase said products still do, old habits are hard to break we guess).
When it's all said and done, you're getting quite a bit for your upgrade dollars. Even the most basic kits come with disc brakes, manual rack-and-pinion steering and better suspension geometry and handling. For a few more dollars, all of the various manufacturers offer larger disc brakes, multi-piston calipers, power rack-and-pinion steering, adjustable shocks with multi-rate coilover springs and much more. To that end, when we contacted Heidts Hot Rod & Muscle Car Parts for our '68 Mustang project's front suspension, we opted to upgrade to its Superide II system, which incorporates many of these changes/upgrades we just mentioned. There are a lot of options available for these systems, and the Heidts staff will happily guide you through the option list to safely outfit your project with your desired upgrade. With our front and rear suspension tackled, we're ready to move on to the next phase of project Generation Gap-final bodywork and paint. Stay tuned for that, and more, in upcoming issues.
|Heidts Superide II for '64-'70 Mustang, starts at
| -Power rack upgrade
| -'67-'70 inner fender panels
|SSBC Tri-Power 13-inch brake kit
|Flaming River collapsible tilt column
|Flaming River column install kit
While the Heidts Superide...
While the Heidts Superide II doesn't come assembled right out of the box, we did mock up the complete front suspension and steering (minus the brakes) before getting down to work. The steel plates at the bottom are the front framerail reinforcements that will be welded in along with the main crossmember.
We're going back in time here...
We're going back in time here a bit too, to when we first completed our fastback conversion (see the June, July, and August '09 issues for those stories). During our metal work, we had the Superide crossmember and reinforcing plates installed, so we'll just briefly recap here. The front framerails need to be in sound shape (we replaced ours) before proceeding. Using the Heidts instructions, the outer framerail wall was trimmed with a plasma cutter to accept the reinforcing plates, which were fully MIG-welded to the bare frames. On a more complete car, you'll have to trim the shock towers away and clean the surrounding metal for welding.
The crossmember is jig-welded...
The crossmember is jig-welded by the craftsman at Heidts, so all you'll have to do is slip it into place between your framerails, ensure it is square and at the proper setback, and start welding away. Move around as you weld to prevent warping the framerails or crossmember.
Here's our crossmember installation...
Here's our crossmember installation completed with a nice coat of epoxy primer and back home in the Modified Mustangs & Fords tech center, ready for the installation of the main suspension components, brakes, and steering hardware.
Beginning with the lower control...
Beginning with the lower control arm installation, it is a simple matter of locating the proper length fastener and matching washers/locknut. While not shown here, as we're mocking things up before paint, we strongly encourage lubricating the pivot points and bushings of the control arms and pivot shafts/bolts.....
....Note that during suspension...
....Note that during suspension mock up, it is better to use non-locking fasteners to ease test fitting and multiple installation/removal steps, though ironically we didn't heed our own advice this time around. Do as we say, not as we do, right?